Teams dominating Formula 1 is nothing new.
And it’s not just teams, but the drivers who lead the charge for said teams, as well. The last two decades saw F1 undergo numerous, and quite intense, changes. From raging V10 engines to hybrid V6s, we’ve seen the best and worst in each era.
But in each phase of F1’s evolution is one team that manages to get the formula just right. Mercedes may be dominating the current era, but before them there were other teams that were just as successful at making the most of the rules handed to them.
It’s nothing new seeing one team run away with a championship and obliterating the field in the process, but just how does Merc’s current dominance compare to the other teams that ruled the sport in the last twenty years.
Special mention has to go to Renault (2005/6), McLaren (2008) and Brawn GP (2009) who won one or both championships in between the teams in our list below.
Ferrari: 2000 - 2004, 2007
Ferrari is the oldest team in F1, having been a part of the championship since its inception. Their success is well documented, but it took a turn for the better in 2000. Following Mika Hakkinen and McLaren-Mercedes’ success in 1998/9, Ferrari, led by then two-time champion Michael Schumacher, set about dominating the sport in unheard of fashion.
Between 2000 and 2004 the team won both the driver’s and constructor’s championship in extraordinary fashion. Though each race was an almost certain Schumacher win, fans never truly grew tired of seeing the German driver and the Italian team taking the wins. That’s because there were viable rivals that could compete for the win.
Back then reliability had a huge impact on race results and the cars were much more sensitive to failure, but it was Ferrari’s reliability that gave Schumacher all of his championships on the trot.
In 2005 and 2006 Renault and Fernando Alonso won the championships, but in 2007 Kimi Raikkonen, driving for Ferrari, brought glory back to Maranello.
Red Bull Racing: 2010 - 2013
In 2008 McLaren-Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, won the driver’s championship and Ferrari retained the Constructor’s title. The following year Brawn GP and Jenson Button won both championships without any development made on their car, and the team bought over by Mercedes the following year.
2010 also saw the rise of Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel. More changes to the regulations were brought in and the following years were all about downforce on the cars. And, Red Bull Racing made the most of it.
In 2010 Vettel took the championship after failing to lead on points throughout the season, except for when it mattered: at the end of the final race. It was an emotional victory that saw Alonso (driving for Ferrari at the time) and Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber, looking to be the title contenders. Vettel followed it up with a dominating season in 2011, but in 2012 it was another close battle between Vettel and Alonso; the latter failing to secure the championship again due to Ferrari’s poor strategic calls.
Vettel won his fourth consecutive championship in 2013 and Red Bull Racing fell from grace in 2014 when the new hybrid-era began.
Mercedes-AMG: 2014 –
In 2014 new engine regulations were brought into the sport: new 1.6-litre turbocharged engines with hybrid technology. The design and performance thereof is very delicate and you literally have to handle the engines with gloves - that's how sensitive it is.
But another part of Mercedes’ success is Hamilton, who joined the team in 2013 from McLaren-Mercedes. Mercedes told Hamilton that he will not win the championship in 2013, but definitely in 2014. It was a promise that came true multi fold. Mercedes had no real competition and they ran away with the 2014 season. 2015 saw glimpses of Ferrari turning up the pace and becoming a real rival, but Merc just managed their season so much better.
In 2016 Hamilton’s team mate, Nico Rosberg, won the championship, but Hamilton returned to winning ways again the following year. Mercedes has won every championship since 2014 and are on course to do it again in 2019; having already won every race of the season thus far. Hamilton, on the other hand, has won every championship in this period (bar 2016), and, like his team, is on course for championship glory once again.
Fans and teams are calling for the FIA to drastically do something about Merc’s dominance, but it would be unfair for the team to be limited because of understanding the regulations better. Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, during their respective years of dominance, at least had rivals to give them a go, but Mercedes is basically peerless.
Ferrari saw five consecutive years of dominance, and Red Bull Racing saw four. And Mercedes? 2019 is the team's sixth year of dominance and chances are that it’ll continue into 2020.
2021 will see new rules and regulations come into play and we will have to wait and see which team will run with the baton then.